Somalia Somalia

Statistical Snapshot



Somalia is a coastal country in Eastern Africa with a population at 15.8 million in 2020. The Somali population is the youngest in the Arab region with 67.4 percent of the total population below the age of 24. Fertility rate is high at 6.1 births per woman.[1] The majority of the population is rural, with 46 percent of the population living in urban areas as of  2020.[2]


The ongoing armed conflict and violence in Somalia following the collapse of the central government in 1991 and the cyclical climatic shocks are the drivers of one of the most challenging and enduring humanitarian crises in the world including repeated waves of traffic famine. In addition to that, COVID-19 spread across the globe is a key factor worsening Somali’s vulnerability. Alarming protection and humanitarian distresses in Somalia persist with a rising number from 4.2 million in 2019 to 5.9 million people requiring humanitarian assistance and protection in 2021 including 4.8 million vulnerable non-IDPs. More than 2.6 million people are internally displaced due to many factors including recurring climate shocks, armed conflict, and political and socio-economic components. Furthermore, over 2.7 million Somalis are expected to suffer from emergency levels of food insecurity by mid-March 2021.[3]


One of the world’s most complex and protracted conflicts continues to inflict significant damage to an already weak economy. Economic activity in Somalia centers on the services and agriculture sector, which experienced near full collapse with crop failures, water shortages, and increased livestock mortality. However, Somalia’s economy remained resilient despite drought and sporadic terror attacks. Somalia’s real GDP growth rate reached 2.9 percent in 2019, and was forecasted to reach 3.2 percent in 2020 but due to COVID-19 outbreak, floods and infestation it contracted by 1.5 percent.[4] Despite  increasing growth rate, debt remains at an unsustainable level of 113 percent of GDP at end 2018 (about $5.3 billion).[5] The debt burden hampers the government’s capacity to reduce widespread poverty.


Being hit by a second wave of COVID-19, the government applied a tax relief on basic food commodities like rice, flour, dates etc. By mid-March, Somalia received 300,000 doses of vaccines out of an anticipated 1.2 million doses to be received under the COVAX program by WHO to vaccinate 20 percent of its population.[6] Nonetheless, COVID–19 threatens the already fragile and ill-equipped health system that has been nearly destroyed. Children and women are particularly exposed to high health risks. Somalia has the world’s highest child mortality rate with 122 out of every 100 thousand children dying before the age of five and 1 in 1,000 women aged 15-49 years dies due to pregnancy-related complications. In addition, Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) prevalence is as high as 98 percent and with 31 percent of community members surveyed stating the rate has been increasing during COVID-19.[3]


Somalia has one of the world’s lowest school gross enrolment rates with only 30 percent of children enrolled at the primary education level and 26 percent at the secondary level.[7] Child labour is reported at 55.5 percent of settlement and urban communities in the country.[3]


This overview was last updated in April 2021. Priority is given to the latest available official data published by national statistical offices and/or public institutions.


[1] Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. 2019. World Population Prospects. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 9 April 2021].

[2] Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. 2018. World Urbanization Prospects. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 9 April 2021].

[3] United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. 2021. Somalia Humanitarian Needs Overview. [ONLINE] Available at:,in%20need%20of%20humanitarian%20assistance.&text=Somalia%20recorded%20the%20highest%20number,2018%20and%20770%2C000%20in%202019 [Accessed 9 April 2021].
[4] International Monetary Fund (IMF). April 2021. World Economic Outlook Database. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 9 April 2021].

[5] International Monetary Fund (IMF). March 2020. Somalia Debt Sustainability Analysis. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 9 April 2021].
[6]  International Monetary Fund (IMF). April 2021. Policy Tracker. [ONLINE] Available at:  [Accessed 9 April 2021].
[7] The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). 2018-2020. Somalia education cluster annual report 2018-2020. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 9 April 2021].

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Data Highlights

  • Somalia had the second world’s highest under-five child mortality rate in 2021 with 111.8 per thousand children and the 6th world’s highest maternal mortality ratio in 2020 with 621 deaths per 100,000 live births down from 1097 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2000

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Additional Resources